Attorney says Phenix City owes Russell County millions of dollars

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) -  A county and city are at odds end in East Alabama over who has jurisdiction over certain areas.

Russell County filed a lawsuit against Phenix City claiming an Alabama law could lead to the city owing the county a huge chunk of change.

Millions of dollars are what Russell County is claiming is owed to them by Phenix City. This all has to do with areas in Ladonia and Fort Mitchell where the city is collecting funds and the county believes it's not legal.

"Four or five million dollars, then when you take the building permits and all of that were claiming a substantial sum," said Russell County Attorney Kenneth Funerburk.

The Russell County Attorney  said a lawsuit filed back in January in Russell County over water and sewer jurisdiction rights just got bigger – by further challenging police jurisdiction areas in Ft. Mitchell and Ladonia.

Funderburk said a May 2016 Alabama law limits the city in police jurisdiction powers and the county believes they should be the only one to levy taxes, issue business licenses, and enforce codes for the people in those areas.

"If you have a situation where the city lassoes an area and annexed it then the police jurisdiction does not go with it," said Funderburk

A lasso is a term meaning the city goes down a road or down a water pipe from the city limits to an area that's not attached or adjacent to the city line, according to the county attorney.

Phenix City attorney Jim McKoon said the city disputes the county's accusations and believes the lawsuit will come out in the city's favor.

This amended lawsuit claims the city does not have the authority to levy business license fees, collect a percentage of sales tax, or collect money from residents and business owners in the Ladonia and Ft. Mitchell areas.

Funderburk says the people living in the areas can only vote in county elections, but the city is allowed to tax them.

"The city had control to tax you in various ways without your representation," said Funderburk.

The county is asking for the total amount collected by the city plus interest dating back to May 2016.

The county said they are hoping to provide relief for resident and business owners in the Fort Mitchell-Ladonia areas.

"It will save people in the county a lot of money," said Funderburk.

'If you switch this to county property only?" asked News Leader 9's Parker Branton.

"Right, it might hurt the city but it won't hurt the citizens," said Funerburk.

A judge in Montgomery will hear both sides of the arguments in this lawsuit at a later date that has not been set.

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